The National-I Am Easy to Find

Sometimes, I tend to forget that the guys in The National are both thoughtful and innovative musicians.  Despite being a group that shifted the sound of indie rock, it’s easy to think they’ve mostly done the same thing on every album.  I Am Easy to Find is the first album since Alligator that feels like a significant shift for The National, and it’s a really grand thing. Continue reading

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Craig Finn-I Need a New War

While there’s real emotions loaded behind every Hold Steady song, they’re built around magical realism, where liquor and painkillers are the means to rebirth more than they are a cause of death. I Need a New War, the latest solo album from Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn, occupies the same spaces that records like Separation Sunday and Boys and Girls in America does, but Finn isn’t as reckless and mystified as he was in those mid-aughts masterpieces. While Finn still eludes to heavy drinking and a complicated relationship with faith, he’s much more aware of the repercussions of those viewpoints. Continue reading

Insignificant Other-i’m so glad i feel this way about you

If you were a tumblr user and fan of bands like The Front Bottoms and TWIABP in 2015, it’s near impossible to not have heard of Insignificant Other.  Lead vocalist and songwriter, Sim Morales has been releasing covers with some originals via bandcamp for last half of the decade, but the recent release of i’m so glad i feel this way about you paints a picture of a triumphant pop-punk band with a Brooklyn-sensibility despite their Alabama by way of Gainesville location. Continue reading

Dave Hause-Kick

With the formal formation of his backing band, The Mermaid, Dave Hause has become more adventurous. Where 2016’s Bury Me in Philly felt transitional, Kick sounds like a musician who wants to see where he can reach.  The singer-songwriter still channels the Americana of his peers Brian Fallon and Craig Finn perpetuate, but there’s more of an inclination towards a (slightly more) modern America than the Ferris wheels and classic cars that you’d probably expect from the former or the drug abuse as religious metaphor of the latter.  Hause allows his work to be more bass-driven, as he reflects on finding some contentment in age and sobriety. Continue reading

PUP-Morbid Stuff

Following the success of 2016’s The Dream Is Over, an album that catapulted PUP from respectable Canadian pop-punks to North American scene superstars, Morbid Stuff was weighted with excitement and ambition.  While there was plenty to ring up the excitement in Dream, Morbid Stuff is like taking a rocket to an unknown moon that was just discovered orbiting earth.  With sleek and chunky riffs, Stefan Babcock spills anxiety over with rallying cries and quarter-life rage that sets the band in a certain class of their contemporaries like Rozwell Kid, where they can make incredibly fun and upbeat songs that are immediately memorable and occasionally silly but only layering over a very real sense of self-actualization. Continue reading

Weezer-Weezer (The Black Album)

If you’ve never seen the 2007 Jason Lee-starring children’s film Alvin and the Chipmunks, I implore you to watch it before listening to the latest Weezer record, The Black Album.  Of course, it was only a matter of time before Weezer entered this Spinal Tap realm that was mostly occupied by Metallica and Jay-Z, but it was developed with loathing diehard fans.  While Weezer is a cultural touchstone, and their Teal Album was the subject of ire from many critics, The Black Album is like Alvin and the Chipmunks in that it’s really enjoyable in a mind-numbing way. Continue reading

Meghan Trainor-The Love Train

When Meghan Trainor’s Title was released in 2015, it was occasionally a breath of fresh air.  It subverted classic 60’s and 50’s pop by singing about modern ideas.  It was very similar to Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox.  The bops were there.  “All About that Bass” and “Lips are Movin'” were genuine hits, and most of the best moments on the album signaled the energy of those two songs.  Whether it was the doo-wop of “Credit” or corny white-girl rap “Bang Dem Sticks,” there was something mystifying about Trainor,which the industry  obviously sees since she’s appeared on a bunch of singing shows and the Grammys.  What’s most puzzling about Trainor though is her appeal to (much) younger listeners, which her latest EP, The Love Train answers (sorta). Continue reading

Ariana Grande-thank u, next

Releasing a follow up to one of the best pop albums of her career just shy of six months later was a bold choice, but we should’ve expected boldness from Ariana Grande immediately following the release of “thank u, next.”  After calling off a wedding and the death of an ex-boyfriend, Grande’s thank u, next is a pop ode to self-reliance and resilience.  This is both a chance for her to lay out her side of every story that’s been published about her, but it’s also a victory lap.  It has moments of brilliance, but it mostly feels like a kiss off to all the media attention she’s been given and create her own narrative.  Sometimes, a plot twist in your own narrative is what cements you as pop royalty. Continue reading

Astronoid-Astronoid

I recently started compiling this playlist called “Music That Can Play Really Loud But Still Feel Like Background Noise.”  None of these songs are really bad, and the title is something of a joke.  Currently the playlist features the likes of Deafheaven, Radiohead, and Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, and none of these artists make boring music.  That being said, if I’m going for a long drive where I’m going to talk to someone, but I still want music to play; I’d be more inclined to put on this playlist than my collection of metal or songs with literary references.  Astronoid takes the shoegaze and atmospheric elements of those bands that I like and pumps them up with a power metal like brightness that really makes their self-titled third album kind of a drag. Continue reading